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Album review: Cadillac Flambe - Old American Law

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Some bands have the ability to create music that reaches into a chasm of sorrow and affliction, exposing the deepest of wounds. With its latest release Old American Law, Cadillac Flambe boasts nine heavily weighted tracks that escort the listener through calamitous musical compositions, and tragic tales told by the mesmerizing vocals of husband and wife Kris and Havilah Bruders.
 
Since its previous release, Eli’s Porch, Cadillac Flambe has had to adjust its sound. The band’s harmonica player James “Pappy” Garrett, who was an integral component to its dark Americana blues approach, died in a car accident during the making of the 2011 EP. Shrinking down to a four-piece, the band has shifted in a decidedly more rock ‘n roll direction, still retaining its rootsy nature but packing a more substantial punch.
 
Ushered in by Kris Bruders’ signature gritty blues guitar sound, “Shakin’ Baby” sets the album in motion, highlighted additionally by Michael Payne’s massive but calculated drum work and Dave Duly’s perfectly in-the-pocket bass playing. On this album, Payne and Duly add a collective rhythmic wallop unheard in previous recordings, pervading the tunes with a rock and R&B heartbeat.
 
After the first track, you’re likely in for the ride, which allows Cadillac Flambe to pull you in to its turbulent descent.
 
This emotional tailspin careens to its greatest depths in “3 Bullets,” the album’s longest and most powerful track—one split into two distinct acts. In Act I, Havilah Bruders tells the story of a desperate mother trying to feed her child, reaching out to the church, the government, and the bank, and is turned away by each. Act II arrives in the middle of the song, which slows from a steady 4/4 to a haunting 6/8 groove, as she discloses the news of her child’s death. A chilling anguish is felt as Bruders’ voice rages, a deliriousness is experienced as she transitions from a quiet whimper to a grief-stricken roar, also revealing the song's final crux: the woman has murdered the three entities that indirectly caused her child's death. Her soul and gospel background is most noticeable here, as she carries us through each scene and makes us feel her misery and despair, measure by measure. It’s also apparent in “Sweet Chariot,” where she takes us through a woman’s frenzied fear of impending death, into her answered prayers of serenity and light.
 
Most of the songs on Old American Law were penned by Kris Bruders, whose own vocals have a mystic, commanding, but sincere quality to them. Take “Father to Son” for instance, a narrative about a father’s beliefs and pressures onto his son. Bruders’ vocal delivery at once contains the father’s threatening tone and the son’s subsequent harsh, casual defiance. In the album’s title track, his voice characterizes the overall personality of the album. His words and the dusty Delta blues sound of his hollow-body custom magnesium guitar convey the voice of an uncompromising outlaw. Bruders’ authoritative, booming vocals—often coupled with his wife’s harmonies, sometimes impassioned, sometimes a simple adornment to his own—and the unique growl of his guitar dig into the meat of each song.
 
Plenty of bands write songs about death, family strife, social issues, and religious conviction, yet few are able to execute it as effectively as Cadillac Flambe does in Old American Law. The throttle of the rhythm section, the bedraggled, melancholy guitar tones, the dissonant piano chords, and the soulful vocals push the message of each song to the forefront. The LP, which was tracked, mixed, and mastered at Little Class Records by Keegan Smith, is the strongest manifestation of anything the band has released to date. 
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is the editor of The Deli KC and is in bands. Believe it or not, this is the first full album review she’s written all year.
 

On Saturday, July 26, Cadillac Flambe will be performing at Czar Bar with Thunderclaps and Deco Auto. Be sure to check them out. You can also download the new album at the link.

 

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Katy Guillen & the Girls Runner Up in The Deli KC's 2013 Best Emerging Artist Poll

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
 
Congrats to Katy Guillen & the Girls, The Deli KC’s second-place pick for 2013 Emerging Artist!
 
Though they’ve been a band for only a little over a year, Katy Guillen & the Girls have gained a strong and dedicated following in Kansas City and beyond. Guillen—whose blues/roots/rock/flamenco guitar skills far exceed that of most—has assembled a precise, expert rhythm section of Claire Adams on bass and Stephanie Williams on drums (see our 2012 interview with Williams) to set her songs in motion.
 
The trio recently took fourth place at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis with its unique, daring interpretation of blues rock.
 
KG & the Girls released …and then there were three in summer 2013 (see our review here) and a single for “Earth Angel” early this year. If you want to find out more about them, we did a Q&A with them shortly after the album was released.
 
 
The group will be playing at Knuckleheads on Wednesday, February 26, with The Latenight Callers and John Velghe & the Prodigal Sons. Facebook event page.
 
 
 
--Michelle Bacon
  
Michelle Bacon is editor of The Deli KC and plays bass in The Philistines and Dolls on Fire, and drums in Drew Black & Dirty Electric
 

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Song premiere: "Earth Angel" by Katy Guillen and the Girls

 
We are happy to premiere the latest track from Katy Guillen & the Girls, “Earth Angel.”
 
 
The trio releases the song right before descending upon Memphis to represent Kansas City in the International Blues Challenge next week. The KC kickoff show is this Saturday, January 18, at BB’s Lawnside BBQ. KG & the Girls will play the IBC as well as a few dates in Nashville and New Orleans over the next week.
 
“Earth Angel” is a ballad that successfully packs in every element that gives KG & the Girls its signature style, which is rooted in the blues but draws from rock and jazz influences. It begins with Guillen’s masterful guitar work and carefully weaves in her compelling vocals with  the always-on-point rhythm section of Claire Adams and Stephanie Williams. Though the track clocks in at nearly eight minutes, it gradually accelerates along with a balance of delicacy and force that gives it a satisfying sense of brevity and completeness.
 
The song was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Duane Trower at Weights & Measures Soundlab.
 
The band is offering up the track as a free download for one week, so head over to their Bandcamp and get your download.
 
Also, head over to BB’s this Saturday at 9:00 p.m. to see them before they leave for Memphis. AJ Gaither will be opening up the show and joining the band on a few tunes. Facebook event page.
 
--Michelle Bacon
 
Michelle is the editor-in-chief of The Deli Magazine—Kansas City. She plays drums in Drew Black & Dirty Electric and bass in Dolls on Fire and The Philistines. She thinks gingers are dumb.
 

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